With apologies for intruding on our warm glow of satisfaction at the election result (for many of us,if not all), today I have a reminder that it will take another ten years to unwind the damage that Theresa May caused at the Home Office. Her survival strategy when Home Secretary was to hide, disguise, obfuscate and frustrate, to obstruct scrutiny as far as was possible, and when the blame was getting too close, to throw underlings under the bus.
It was Theresa May, you will recall, who was responsible for importing into Britain 35-year old 'child' refugees complete with beards and middle aged crows feet. I submitted a request under FOI for a copy of the guidance issued by the Home Office to immigration officers in identifying these child migrants. The usual delays and requests for clarification spun out their overdue response to a year before the Information Commissioner took up the case; the Home Office then ignored the Information Commissioner's ruling, and instruction to provide the information. I was just about booking the flight to London to give evidence in the High Court in a case to be brought by the ICO when the Home Office gave way, and provided a glossy DTP'd booklet. The only problem was, it bore a publication date after the date of my FOI request, and after all those adult 'children' had already been admitted. I gave up.
The next one I won't give up. The new select committee chairs will shortly be announced and I will be following closely any calls for evidence by the Home Affairs Select Committee with interest. This time it's the strategy Mrs May developed with regard to the National Crime Agency. The NCA has spent a considerable amount of our tax money in producing glossy, advertorial 'annual reports' describing how brilliant it is, what a huge threat the general public poses to the State, and how they need even more power. The problem is, some of the information given in last year's NCA wankfest was misleading - seemingly deliberately so. I submitted an FOI request to the Home Office, the NCA's parent. No can do, came the response. The NCA enjoys a total exemption from FOI requests on security grounds. Fine, I said, it's not about operational policing matters, it's about inaccuracies and misleading presentation of statistics already in the public domain in the annual report. Who answers for this publication? No-one. Not the Home Office and not the NCA. They could spend a million of tax money issuing glossy brochures telling us that women with unibrows should be subject to surveillance and not one member of the public, not one journalist, not one taxpayer can challenge it. It stinks. And it's got Theresa May's smug inept fingerprints all over it. Hide. Disguise. Obfuscate. Frustrate.
While the EU has not been responsible for Mrs May's dreadful tenure of the Home Office, it has I think been responsible for encouraging our unelected government officials in this impertinence against public scrutiny. They've learned bad ways from Brussels. The abolition of the LCD by the federast Blair and the creation of a Euro-style Ministry of Justice was surely just a first step towards a national police force under the command of the Justice Minister, and the complete disassociation from democratic and local control of our citizen constables.
Charles Moore writes a good piece in the Telegraph today, covering also the intrusion by the courts into matters that are democratic. Sometimes precipitated by well-funded saboteurs of the democratic process such as Gina Miller, sometimes by the dangers of compliance with 'dynamic' frameworks of law under which judges - and not even domestic ones - instead of Parliament continually modify and update the extent and effect of our statutes. Lord Sumption, in this year's Reith lectures, although himself a Remainer, deprecated this growth of 'lawfare' and the intrusion of unelected authority into the democratic process. Moore has a straightforward remedy - to row-back on Blair's pollution of our well-developed state institutions.
The obvious safeguard for reform – this is me speaking, not Professor Ekins – would be to restore in full the rights of the Lord Chancellor, which Tony Blair, in a careless piece of sofa government one weekend, threw away.Update - 50p coins
By a very British paradox, the age when, through the Lord Chancellor, the government theoretically had complete power over appointing judges was also the age in which there was least politicising of those appointments. Judges judged, and politicians did politics. Now we can get back to that.
On my post of 18th December I hoped that we would see the re-issue of the Brexit 50p coins. The government were ahead of me. The coins were approved by the Queen in Council on the 17th and millions will be released into circulation at the end of next month. Well Done! Carry on.